Washington, DC, June 17, 2007
Florida Major State Day
Florida Celebrated at Special Worship Service at Washington National Cathedral
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WASHINGTON The crisp tenor of hand chimes rang through the nave of Washington National Cathedral as the Indialantic Chamber Singers summoned worshipers on the morning of June 17.
The tolling by Tamsey Audet, Carol Conway and Nancy Covaultmembers of the Brevard County choirsignaled the start of a special Florida State Day service at the landmark cathedral.
More than 150 visitors from the state as well as Florida natives now living in Washington attended the event, with Floridians singled out to read Scripture and deliver Offertory gifts to the altar.
Each month Washington National Cathedral, which has hosted state funerals and other religious events of national significance, celebrates a states contributions to the character of America. Religious and civic leaders as well as citizens are invited.
The Right Rev. Dabney T. Smith, bishop coadjutor of the Sarasota-based Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, presided at the 11 am service, which drew 819 worshipers.
Smith said the value of people gathering for worship was reinforced to him after he and his wife Mary Ellen visited Arlington National Cemetery a few days earlier. They wandered into the section containing the graves of soldiers recently killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We saw name after name after name of people who are younger than my children, Smith said. And young families there who were just sobbing. This was not a tourist attraction. This was real life knowing that reality is gripping the heart of the nation in ways that for some people are so bleak and unimaginable.
Having a place where people can come and be quiet and connect with God is always necessary but perhaps in our time of super-anxiety, perhaps now more than ever, Smith said.
The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of Washington National Cathedral, delivered a sermon in which he urged that people slow themselves down, reflect and pray.
Seemingly instant modes of communications like cell phones, faxes and e-mail are leading work lives and home lives to be lived faster and faster, but not necessarily to satisfying ends, he said.
The problem with this world is that communication never seems to come to closure, Lloyd said. Every e-mail wants another.
Author Adam Gopnick called it perpetually suspended communication, Lloyd said. You can instantly communicate but you are never quite finished.
Is it any surprise that we need time to step out of the fast lane?
Lloyd urged worshipers this summer to find some way to stop and do nothing, and learn to float.
Let God, let your life, hold you up, he said. Stop trying so hard. Be still and know the love of God. We work so hard to be responsible people that we forget it is God who is holding us, and our world, together. It is not up to us to do everything right, to achieve all the right things. If it is up to us it will all never be done because there is always more. It is our job to do what we can and then trust God to do the rest.
The answer to our busy-ness will never be external, Lloyd said. Getting beyond busy-ness is an inside job.
The Indialantic Chamber Singers made a return performance at the Cathedral. They took part in a 2003 Florida service.
About half the 32 singers marked their second trip. They were all excited about it, they were thrilled by the experience, choir director David Vogeding said.
Nancy Covault, the choir president, said there are no high-ceiling performance halls along Floridas hurricane coast, so the group savored the chance to sing again in Washington.
Vogeding said he chose sacred choral pieces for the groups 25-minute offering performance that lent themselves to the Cathedrals acoustics. Every one of our pieces today really had a good strong wonderful message, he said.
Robert and Anne Vandemark of Sarasota, and Otis and Joanna Wragg of Key Biscayne, carried communion elements during the Offertory. Youngsters Julia Cobb, Jamie Capers and Christina McBride, all of Cocoa Beach, delivered an Offertory food basket to the altar.
Kevin Smith, of West Melbourne, carried the Florida flag during the grand opening procession. He placed it on the chancel steps, where it was to remain for a week as a further acknowledgement of the state.
ATTN PRINT MEDIA: If you desire e-mail transmission of this account and/or photos sent as JPEG attachments please contact Elizabeth Mullen at the number above. Available on the website are print-quality photos of Washington National Cathedral (Photos for Print under News at www.cathedral.org/cathedral).
SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral